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Finnish Kale: Wikis


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The Finnish Kale (also Kaale; Romani: Kàlo 'black') are a group of the Romani people that lives primarily in Finland and Sweden. In Finland they are often referred to as Mustalaiset (pl.) which means etymologically "Blacks", due to their darker complexions and hair in comparison to most other Scandinavians. Mustalainen (sing.) is nowadays sometimes considered an offensive term and in common and official context romani is more appropriate.

Their main languages are Finnish and Finnish Romani. They are mostly Christian.[citation needed] Adult women are easily recognizable due to their traditional dress, which is a very large black and white dress. Finnish Roma have a very tight and somewhat closed community and have often lived apart from the rest of society. This has led to a widespread suspicion towards them and they have suffered discrimination.[citation needed]

The traditional professions and businesses of the Finnish Kale are related to thei traditional way of living as wanderers, like music, horsekeeping, fortune-telling and kitsch-selling. Nowadays harness racing and horsekeeping are essential part of the modern culture of the Finnish Kale. Many tango and schlager singers are also of Romani descent.


Perceived problems of the Kale in Finland


Socioecenomic success

The socioeconomic status of Roma in Finland is typically low, unemployment among them being relatively high. Their culture's traditional disregard for education is seen to be a major contributor to this. A paper published by the Ministry of Labour states that "According to labour administration’s client register material, 70% of the Roma jobseekers had a primary school or lower secondary school education." By Finnish labour market standards, an adult with a lower secondary school education is considered uneducated. According to the same paper: "Education is compulsory in Finland and this obligation applies equally to the Roma as to other citizens, but dropping out of basic education is thought still to be common among young Roma, while in the mainstream population it is extremely uncommon."[citation needed]

Perceived violence and criminality

Public discussion of the Roma culture has highlighted some issues of violence in the culture. For example, police officer and boxer Riku Lumberg (of Romani heritage) wrote an open letter to his own people, seeking an end to the "barbaric tradition of blood feud" in the community.[1] Roma artist Kiba Lumberg has said the following about the culture she grew up in: "Blood feud and the violence that exists in Roma culture, can't be discussed in Finland. We can't accept that some groups hide behind culture to excuse stepping on human rights and freedom of speech." and "The trouble is, that when a Gypsy dares speak in public about the negative things happening in their own tribe, they face death threats. If a white person opens their mouth, they're accused of racism."[2]

In Finland, unlike in many other countries, crime statistics give the ethnic background of the perpetrator. The Finnish Ministry of Justice indicated that in 2005, persons of Romani background perpetrated 18% of solved street robbery crimes in Finland (by way of comparison Somalis were responsible for 12%, while ethnic Finns were behind 51%).[3] The Finnish authorities, however, realise that there are hindrances to integrating those Romanis who do commit crime back into society. According to a 2003 report by the Finnish Department of Corrections, there were an estimated 120 to 140 Romanis in the Finnish prison system. The report discussed ways to combat institutional racism and discrimination within the prisons system, as well as ways for improving rehabilitation of Romani inmates through, for example, education programmes and better cooperation with the Romani community at large.[4]

Notable people of Kale descent


  • Hortto Kaalo, Romani music ensemble

See also


  1. ^ Lumberg, Riku (19 August 2007). "Riku Lumbergin avoin kirje romaniyhteisölle [Riku Lumberg's open letter to the Romani community]" (in Finnish). Helsingin Sanomat (Helsinki). Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Varpula, Sari (16 August 2007). "Taiteilija Kiba Lumberg: Sieluni ei mahdu mustalaishameeseen" (in Finnish). Sana (Helsinki). Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  3. ^ Lehti, Martti (14 February 2008) (in Finnish) (PDF). Ryöstörikoskatsaus 2007 [Robbery Crime Report 2007]. OPTL:n tutkimustiedonantoja 83. Helsinki: Oikeuspoliittinen tutkimuslaitos. pp. 36-7. ISBN 9789517043502. Retrieved 21 Feburary 2010. 
  4. ^ (in Finnish) (PDF) Romanien asema ja olosuhteet vankiloissa sekä yhdyskuntaseuraamusten suorittajina: Työryhmän raportti [On the status of the Roma and the conditions of prisons and community penalties performed: Task Force Report]. Rikosseuraamusviraston monisteita 2/2003. Helsinki: Rikosseuraamusvirastolle. 20 January 2003. Retrieved 21 Feburary 2010. 


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